02 January 2013

Lesson of the Week

Introducing Siegbert Tarrasch

Seigbert Tarrasch (1862-1934) is best known for developing the principles of positional chess first articulated by William Steinitz. He was also one of the strongest players in the world from the late nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. He was a medical doctor, and his career led him to turn down the opportunity to play a world championship match against Steinitz in 1892. Chess historians believe he might have won such a match. In 1908, he played a world championship match against Emanuel Lasker, which Lasker won 12 1/2 - 5 1/2.

The players whose games serve as the source for my chess lessons this year were selected for the purpose of introducing these classic principles to Spokane youth chess players.

Paul Morphy understood, but did not articulate these principles. Akiba Rubinstein has been called the most brilliant proponent of the so-called Steinitz school. We began the school year with Rubinstein, then finished 2012 with Morphy. Now, we move on to Tarrasch. We will conclude the school year with Lasker.

As Rubinstein was developing as a young chess player, he studied Tarrasch's book Dreihundert Schachpartien (1896). The English language edition was published more than a century later. This week's lesson features the final moves of the first game in that book.

Tarrasch,Siegbert - Mendelsohn,Jozsef [A25]
Breslau, 1879


This first move is something that beginners should avoid. Nonetheless, it is not as bad as it looks in the hands of a strong positional player. Even Magnus Carlsen, the world's highest rated player, has played it at least three times, but only in blitz. Tarrasch and his opponent follow an opening scheme that they knew from study of the games played by Adolf Anderssen and Paul Morphy, as Tarrasch points out in the book. Even among top players, White's score with 1.a3 is below average.

1...e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Nc6 4.e3 d5 5.cxd5 Nxd5 6.Nf3 Bg4 7.Be2 Nxc3 8.bxc3 f5 9.d4 e4 10.Nd2 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 a6 12.0–0 Bd6 13.Qh5+ g6 14.Qh6 Qf6 15.f4 0–0–0 16.Rb1 Ne7 17.Qh3 h6 18.Nxe4 Qe6 19.Nxd6+ Rxd6 20.Qf3 c6 21.Rf2 g5 22.Rfb2 Rd7 23.Qe2 Rc7 

White to move

24.Rxb7 Rxb7 25.Qxa6 Qd7 26.Qa8+ 1–0

As only one club meets this week, the beginning tactics worksheet will be the one given to the Tuesday groups before the holiday. Some players in today's club took it home as homework. See "Lesson of the Week" (19 December 2012) for Beginning Tactics 10.

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